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Mar 31, 2018

The Guardian | Fox Media News host Laura Ingrahamtakes week off after David Hogg comments on March 31, 2018.

theguardian.com

Fox News host Laura Ingraham takes week off after David Hogg comments | Media


The Fox News host Laura Ingraham announced late on Friday that she would take the next week off, after 11 advertisers dropped her show over her mockery of a teenage survivor of the Florida school shooting.

Ingraham said on air she would take Easter week off with her children and a “great line-up of guest hosts” would fill in. In an email on Saturday, a Fox News spokeswoman said the break had already been planned.
Ingraham taunted David Hogg, 17, on Twitter on Wednesday. In response, Hogg called for a boycott of advertisers on The Ingraham Angle.
Ingraham wrote that Hogg had been “Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it. (Dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA...totally predictable given acceptance rates.)”
Hogg is a survivor of the 14 February shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale. He and other classmates have become the faces of a youth-led movement for gun control reform, last weekend leading a huge protest march in Washington DC.
Hogg tweeted a list of a dozen companies that advertise on The Ingraham Angle and urged his supporters to demand they cancel their ads.
On Thursday, Ingraham tweeted an apology.
“Any student should be proud of a 4.2 GPA,” she wrote, “incl[uding] David Hogg. On reflection, in the spirit of Holy Week, I apologize for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland.
“For the record, I believe my show was the first to feature David immediately after that horrific shooting and even noted how ‘poised’ he was given the tragedy. As always, he’s welcome to return to the show anytime for a productive discussion.”

The apology did not stop companies dropping her show. The first to cancel were Nutrish, a pet food line created by the celebrity chef Rachael Ray; TripAdvisor; the online home furnishings seller Wayfair; Nestlé; Hulu; Expedia; and Stitch Fix, an online personal shopping service.
According to CBS News, four more companies dropped the show on Friday: Johnson & Johnson, Office Depot, the dieting company Jenny Craig and the Atlantis Paradise Island resort.

Hogg wrote on Twitter: “An apology in an effort just to save your advertisers is not enough. I will only accept your apology only if you denounce the way your network has treated my friends and I in this fight. It’s time to love thy neighbor, not mudsling at children.”
After Ingraham announced her time off, he added that she should: “Have some healthy reflections this Holy Week.”
He told CNN: “I think it’s great that corporate America is standing with me. They cannot push us around, especially when all we’re trying to do here is save lives.”
Elsewhere on Friday, the rock musician and Donald Trump supporter Ted Nugent said students calling for gun control were “mushy brained children”.
The National Rifle Association board member was a guest on the Joe Pags Show, a nationally syndicated conservative radio program. Parkland survivors were wrong to blame the NRA for mass shootings, he said, adding that “the evidence is irrefutable, they have no soul”.
The gun-control measures such activists support would amount to “spiritual suicide”, he said.

The Wasshington Post | March Madness Final Four 2018: Loyola Chicago vs. Michigan updates and Analysis on March 31,2018.

washingtonpost.com

March Madness Final Four 2018: Loyola Chicago vs. Michigan updates and analysis



98-year-old Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, the Loyola Ramblers chaplain, spoke to reporters ahead of the team's game against Michigan. (Reuters)
No. 11 seed Loyola Chicago takes on third-seeded Michigan on Saturday night in the first semifinal of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The Ramblers are attempting to become the lowest-seeded team to reach the national championship game. Follow the game here as we update throughout the night.
Michigan’s Moe Wagner killed Loyola-Chicago’s magical run to the Final Four on Saturday night, scoring 24 points and grabbing 15 rebounds as the Wolverines ran away from the Ramblers with a 69-57 win.
Wagner was monstrous down the stretch, keying a 17-2 run that helped the Wolverines erase a nine-point deficit and reach the national championship for the first time since 2013. Wagner’s dagger came with the Ramblers trailing by just five with just over three minutes remaining, when he did this:
Wagner didn’t stop running for loose balls even with his team up by eight in the final minutes, when he nearly took out CBS broadcasters Bill Raftery and Grant Hill and shared a moment with both after:
Loyola-Chicago’s Sister Jean was wheeled out of the arena shortly after.
Michigan will go for the title against the winner of Villanova-Kansas on Monday night.
Ramblers 20 minutes from shot at national championship
Loyola Chicago looked as though it was struggling to shed the nerves of making its first Final Four appearance on Saturday night in San Antonio. It started just 2-for-10 against Michigan, watching shot after shot miss and Wolverine after Wolverine blow by to the rim at the other end. Michigan led by eight early and looked comfortable after a 9-0 run.
Yet even after arguably their worst first half performance of the postseason, the Ramblers lead 29-22 at halftime. How? Improved shooting (center Cameron Krutwig and guard Marques Townes each have eight points), a lift from reserve Aundre Jackson (eight points) off the bench and a sloppy offensive performance so far from Michigan, which has 11 points and 11 rebounds from forward Moe Wagner but is nonetheless shooting 9-for-31 (29 percent) from the field. Loyola Chicago also got a bit of luck, including on this off-balance jumper by Townes with the shot clock winding down – which led the guard to do a Michael Jordan-esque shrug.
Loyola also got this running floater at the buzzer from guard Donte Ingram right before halftime:
That led to plenty of shout-outs to Sister Jean, who is courtside in San Antonio, on Twitter:
Loyola has certainly been in this position before; aside from overcoming a seven-point lead early in the second half of its first-round win over Miami, the Ramblers also overcame an early nine point deficit in the second round against Tennessee and a 12-point deficit within the first seven minutes in the Sweet 16 against Nevada. — Roman Stubbs
* * *
SAN ANTONIO — In the back corner of the Michigan locker room Thursday, the 6-foot-6 Michigan guard Charles Matthews sat and heard a wavelet of questions about a leading topic of the 2018 Final Four. To the sport, it’s a subject gathering steam, that of transfers, their frequency and what should be their rights within the game.
To Matthews, it’s an ancient matter.
Repeatedly, he begged off discussing how in 2015-16, he played for Kentucky, playing 370 minutes in 36 games, averaging 1.7 points and 1.6 rebounds. It had been so long ago, he said. He wasn’t interested in the rehash.
Loyola-Chicago band members cheer before Saturday’s semifinal game against Michigan. (Eric Gay/Associated Press)
Three of the 10 starters in the opening semifinal between Loyola Chicago and Michigan on Saturday could tell of a winding rehash if interested. They’re transfers, and they’re crucial to the matchup. Matthews, once ranked No. 11 by Rivals.com among recruits in 2015, and third among shooting guards, has played by far his fullest season and has led Michigan in scoring in this tournament.
His stat line for last season showed all zeros, much as the stat line did for Loyola Chicago guard Marques Townes and in 2015-16 for Loyola Chicago guard Clayton Custer. By the time Michigan had withstood Florida State in the West Region final in Los Angeles, Matthews had made his curvy trip from a potential one-and-done college player to Final Four-bound team scoring leader.
He had gone for 20, 11, 18 and 17 points in Michigan’s four NCAA tournament games, on strong shooting of 7 for 13, 5 for 12, 8 for 11 and 6 for 14, the last in a game when hardly anyone made a shot. “It was special,” Matthews said. “Last year all I used to hear in practice was, ‘Turnover, Matthews,’ ‘Turnover, Matthews.’ And, ‘Go see 212,’ that’s when I have to run up to the top of the bleachers. But I stayed with it. Coach stayed on me. He continued to believe in me, and that continued to help my confidence grow. My teammates believe in me, and I believe in them. So it’s just been a special feeling.”
For Custer, Loyola Chicago’s team leader, the trail went from Overland Park, Kan., to Iowa State, for a season with 12 game appearances, zero starts and 15 field goal attempts, three of them good. At Loyola Chicago, this Missouri Valley Conference player of the year joined high school teammate Ben Richardson, who helped lure him once he decided to depart Iowa State. For Townes, Custer’s fellow guard, it had gone from Edison, N.J., through Farleigh-Dickinson (N.J.), where Townes played two seasons and averaged 10 points after being on a high school team with Karl-Anthony Towns, now of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Wade Baldwin, now of the Portland Trail Blazers.
“A lot of times young people, in recruiting, they want — whether it’s a transfer or a high school kid — they want to make a splash on signing day, or announcement day,” Loyola Chicago Coach Porter Moser said. “‘Hey, I’m going to this conference, this school,’ and they think that validates them being a player with all the peripheral people. We always sell, ‘Go to a place, go to Loyola and make a splash on game day. You could have 125, 130 splashes.’ ”
The biggest one has come.
* * *
Series history: The schools have played three times before, but not since 1969, when Loyola won, 112-100, at Chicago Stadium. Michigan won the two previous meetings.
Fast facts: Loyola’s 14-game winning streak is the longest of the Final Four teams … The Ramblers are making their first Final Four appearance since 1963 … This is the 100th season of Loyola men’s basketball … Through last weekend, Loyola ranked fifth in the country in scoring defense and second in fewest personal fouls per game … Five Loyola players are averaging double-digit points, something the Ramblers haven’t done since 1963 … Michigan is in the Final Four for the first time since 2013 … Michigan is 6-1 in national semifinal games, the best record of any school that’s played in at least five … Michigan Coach John Beilein would hit 800 career victories if his team wins the national title … Charles Matthews leads Michigan in both points (16.5 ppg) and rebounds (7.3) during the NCAA tournament.
How Loyola got here:
  • The Ramblers knocked off No. 6 seed Miami in a first-round thriller, 64-62, inching ahead when Donte Ingram connected on a long three-pointer as time was running out. It was their first NCAA tournament game (and win) since a 1985 trip that ended against Patrick Ewing and Georgetown in the Sweet 16. And it made Sister Jean into a national sensation.
  • More late-game dramatics against No. 3 Tennessee: Clayton Custer hit the go-ahead basket with less than four seconds left in a 63-62 win. That victory gave the Ramblers their 30th win, breaking the school record set by the 1963 NCAA championship team. And it put a focus on the Chicago school’s oddball charm.
  • Another game, another big shot: Marques Townes hit a backbreaking three-pointer with less than seven seconds left to help clinch a 69-68 win over No. 7 seed Nevada. That made it three tournament wins by a total of four points.
How Michigan got here:
  • The Wolverines trailed No. 14 seed Montana 10-0 before surging ahead for a 61-47 win.
  • Their second-round game offered one of the tournament’s most dramatic endings, when freshman Jordan Poole bombed in a long three-pointer as time expired to clinch a 64-63 win over No. 6 seed Houston.
  • Michigan outlasted No. 9 seed Florida State, 58-54, to reach its eighth Final Four. Despite some recent offensive struggles, German forward Moritz Wagner is a big reason the Wolverines play on.
More college basketball:
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The New York Times | At the Justice Dept.’s Death Penalty Unit, Accusations of Favoritism, Gender Bias and Unwanted Groping on March 31,2018.

nytimes.com

At the Justice Dept.’s Death Penalty Unit, Accusations of Favoritism, Gender Bias and Unwanted Groping

Katie Benner

The chief of the Justice Department’s death penalty unit was removed from his post amid questions about grievances against him. Al Drago for The New York Times
WASHINGTON — When Kevin Carwile arrived to run the Justice Department’s death penalty unit in 2010, he had never prosecuted or sat through an entire capital punishment case. He was moved into the job after overseeing the gangs unit, and some prosecutors worried he lacked the expertise to steer the division.
Now Mr. Carwile has been removed from his post after The New York Times inquired about a series of grievances against him, including complaints that he promoted gender bias and a “sexualized environment.” He fostered a culture of favoritism and sexism, according to court records, internal documents and interviews with more than a half-dozen current and former employees. In one episode, his deputy groped an administrative assistant at a bar in view of their colleagues, according to some who were present. Mr. Carwile asked the witnesses to keep it secret, one said.
Employees of the unit, the capital case section, complained about the issues to Justice Department officials, the inspector general and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at least 12 times. Some allegations went unaddressed for years. In cases that were investigated, the accusers were never told what investigators found. Both Mr. Carwile and his deputy, Gwynn Kinsey, remained Justice Department employees despite the inquiries.
Gwynn Kinsey was Mr. Carwile’s deputy in the division.
Six employees, including the administrative assistant, said they eventually left the section or quit government altogether in part because of the toxic climate. A defendant in Indiana has asked in court for the government to drop the death penalty recommendation in his case because of the unit’s emerging conduct issues.
Mr. Carwile declined to comment. After The Times contacted the Justice Department for this article, he was demoted and detailed to a different division. Through his lawyers, Mr. Kinsey declined to comment.
“The Department of Justice takes these allegations extremely seriously but cannot discuss specific employee disciplinary actions, or comment on internally handled personnel actions or matters that may impact personal privacy,” said Ian Prior, a Justice Department spokesman. The department confirmed that it referred some allegations made by employees to the inspector general, whose spokesman would not confirm or deny any investigation.
The unit is poised to gain power. President Trump has suggested the United States start executing drug dealers, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has urged prosecutors to seek the death penalty whenever possible in drug-related crimes.

A Mercurial Boss

The Justice Department created the capital case section in 1998 to help the attorney general decide when to apply capital punishment. The section’s prosecutors advise or work with trial teams on cases and a few trials a year. They were involved in some high-profile prosecutions like those of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers, and Dylann S. Roof, who was convicted in 2016 of murdering nine people at an African-American church in South Carolina.
As the death penalty fell out of favor in the United States, the influence of the unit, already one of the smallest in the Justice Department, waned. About half a dozen trial lawyers worked there in the beginning of 2012, along with a lawyer conducting protocol reviews and three others on loan from different parts of the department.
Mr. Carwile had arrived just before the public learned of the Fast and Furious scandal, a botched operation in which agents at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives let criminals move guns across the border into Mexico to try to build a bigger case. Many of the firearms were later found at crime scenes. Mr. Carwile incorrectly told superiors that the A.T.F. learned about guns moving illegally only after the fact, according to a subsequent inspector general investigation. He was moved from his post as head of the gangs unit to the much smaller capital punishment division.
Kevin Carwile arrived to run the Justice Department’s death penalty division in 2010.
He quickly gained a reputation as a mercurial manager with a hands-off style that bordered on neglect, according to current and former employees. He rarely responded to emails, four former employees said, and in meetings his questions revealed that he had not read their messages.
But after his first year, Mr. Carwile received the Excellence in Management award for the criminal division as the section’s lawyers prosecuted more cases.
In 2013, Jacabed Rodriguez-Coss, a prosecutor who had herself won one of the department’s highest awards, complained to human resources that Mr. Carwile expected her to involuntarily travel far more than her male counterparts.
Though she lived in Connecticut and had cases in Rhode Island and Vermont, he assigned her to one in California. She protested that her family needed her nearby. Her husband, an F.B.I. agent, was one of the first on the scene of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and was confronting the aftermath of having worked on the case.
Ms. Rodriguez-Coss filed a complaint to the E.E.O.C., which notified the Justice Department. Mr. Carwile subsequently suspended permission for her to work from Connecticut. She sued the department in 2016, accusing him of gender discrimination and claiming that her permission to work in Connecticut was taken away in retaliation for her complaints.
Seven men and women from the unit filed declarations in her support. Two male colleagues said that they had not been assigned so much travel. Bruce R. Hegyi, a former prosecutor, wrote that he left because of “plainly unethical and improper conduct.”
He said in his filing that Mr. Carwile promoted “a sexualized environment,” took him to a restaurant with scantily clad waitresses and let a fellow prosecutor show naked photographs of a woman during a work gathering of both men and women.
Other employees said in their declarations that Mr. Carwile held men-only meetings, sent emails only to men and assigned more desirable and high-profile cases to men. “Women only go to law school to find rich husbands,” he said, according to a declaration filed by one lawyer, Amanda Haines.
Under Mr. Carwile, there was incentive “not to stir things up,” said Kevin Little, the lawyer representing Ms. Rodriguez-Coss.
“My client and other of her colleagues feared retaliation,” he said.
The Justice Department said in its response that Ms. Rodriguez-Coss’s claims “boil down to her admitted refusal to perform the essential requirements of her position,” which included taking on cases that required travel.

Life-or-Death Cases in the Balance

Around the same time, Ms. Haines, who worked as a federal prosecutor for 18 years before joining the division, alerted Mr. Carwile to persistent work-quality issues, warnings that she later described in a court filing.
In one case in Pennsylvania, she said, she received no files describing the government’s work by the previous prosecutor, despite numerous requests, and dozens of boxes with discovery materials had sat unreviewed.
She told Mr. Carwile and Mr. Kinsey, but the problem went unaddressed. Her colleague instead received a plum assignment: the Boston Marathon bombing trial.
In the Indiana case, Ms. Haines said her predecessor interviewed over a dozen witnesses without a law enforcement officer or other witness present, an error that could jeopardize the government’s work. She said in a legal filing that the prosecutor, who later won a departmental award, destroyed his interview notes, which he initially denied but later acknowledged.
After Ms. Haines took her concerns to Mr. Carwile, a colleague shared them in an email with Sung-Hee Suh, then the deputy assistant attorney general.
Ms. Haines also described the errors in a declaration filed in Ms. Rodriguez-Coss’s lawsuit. After her accusations became public, defense lawyers in the Indiana case pushed back on the government’s recommendation to seek the death penalty for their client, Andrew Rogers, a felon accused of tying up his cellmate and stabbing him to death.
The notes the prosecutor is accused of destroying could have been the difference “between a verdict for life and a verdict for death,” the defense wrote in a brief in January.
“If you pull on the thread, who knows how many cases could be impacted?” said Mr. Little, Ms. Rodriguez-Coss’s lawyer.
A portion of a brief filed by defense lawyers for Andrew Rogers, a felon accused of tying up his cellmate and stabbing him to death.

‘Unwelcome Liberties’

Two years ago, another prosecutor in the section, Ann Carroll, was asked to travel for work after she had surgery. Around that time, she learned that a male colleague was allowed to forgo travel to accommodate his gluten intolerance.
“Over the 20 years I had worked at the Department of Justice, I had never experienced a complete lack of sensitivity in the immediate aftermath of a serious medical illness,” Ms. Carroll wrote in a declaration. “I felt Mr. Carwile’s response was arbitrary, and gender-based.” She quit that June.
Before departing, Ms. Carroll said she described ethical violations to Ms. Suh, prompting a management review. Four former and current employees said in court declarations and to The Times that they told Ms. Suh and James Mann, the chief of staff to the head of the Criminal Division at the Justice Department, about the mishandled cases, sexualized culture and gender bias.
Ms. Suh ultimately said that Mr. Carwile and Mr. Kinsey, as a result of the review, were “now doing their best,” according to Mr. Hegyi’s declaration, and she concluded that employees were unhappy because they wanted to work from home, to choose between trials and case reviews, and to be given more ways to bring concerns to management.
Her conclusions dumbfounded employees who said they had shared more serious grievances. A person briefed on the matter said they were not told of steps being taken to address complaints because those were confidential.
Ms. Suh, who now works at the asset manager Pimco, said she could not comment on the details of pending litigation or personnel matters. “Any allegations of misconduct, discrimination, harassment or bias actually brought to my attention were fully and fairly investigated and addressed appropriately,” she said.
The years of warnings that their bosses had ignored or condoned misconduct came to a head last May. During a work-sanctioned happy hour at a restaurant near the Justice Department, colleagues watched Mr. Kinsey grope the administrative assistant, Alyssa tenBroek.
“Mr. Kinsey, who is a married man, began to take what seemed very clearly to be unwelcome liberties of a physical, sexual nature,” Luke Woolman, an intern at the time, wrote in his declaration. He said Mr. Kinsey repeatedly touched Ms. tenBroek, whom he identified as A.T., “inappropriately, openly and obviously” in front of patrons, Mr. Carwile and at least one other Justice Department prosecutor.
Mr. Woolman and the prosecutor, Sonia Jimenez, suggested everyone go home, he later told Ms. Haines. Ms. Jimenez tried to discourage Mr. Kinsey from trying to persuade Ms. tenBroek to go to a hotel with him, according to an internal memo by Ms. Haines.
A portion of the declaration by Luke Woolman, an intern at the time in the death penalty division.
As the night wound down, Mr. Carwile pulled aside Mr. Woolman and asked him not to tell anyone what he had seen.
“He sternly reiterated his request, specifically stating that he was being serious,” Mr. Woolman wrote.

Fallout From a Night Out

After that night, tensions in the unit exploded into view. Ms. tenBroek showed colleagues text messages from Mr. Kinsey in which he offered to give her money, pay her bills or take her on a trip. He also sent her photos of herself that he had downloaded from the internet.
He signed off “XOXOXOX,” according to Ms. Haines’s memo. In other messages, he appeared to apologize.
Ms. tenBroek later told Ms. Haines and Julie Mosley, another prosecutor, that Mr. Kinsey groped her again in the cab and tried to coerce her into checking into a hotel.
Ms. Mosley told the E.E.O.C., and Ms. Haines sent her memo to superiors at the Justice Department. “I trust you will give this matter the serious attention it deserves,” she wrote. Mr. Woolman said in a court filing that he shared his story with Mr. Mann and an investigator from the inspector general’s office.
Ms. tenBroek did not dispute her co-workers’ accounts and said in a statement that she had participated in the department’s “lengthy and taxing” complaint process. She has since left the agency.
“I have always wanted to pursue a career with the Department of Justice, but it failed me when I reported misconduct,” she said. “No woman should feel compelled to deal with the pervasive harassment that I experienced, much less have her complaint be effectively disregarded.”
The department’s inspector general began investigating, and Mr. Kinsey was demoted and moved to another division. He is appealing. A person close to Mr. Kinsey said that evidence in another investigation is favorable to him, but would not say who was conducting that inquiry.
Current and former employees said the public understandably expects death penalty cases to be handled with integrity. As Mr. Sessions and Mr. Trump push for more capital punishments, the section’s history, they say, could work against the Justice Department.
The same month as the happy hour, the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, sent a memo to Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general. Sexual harassment, he wrote, “profoundly affects the victim and affects the agency’s reputation, undermines the agency’s credibility, and lowers employee productivity and morale.”

ALJAZEERA ENGLISH | What's behind the protests in the Gaza Strip? Inside Story on March 31,2018.

The Humanist Report | How You Tube's DISASTROUS New Change is Hurting Creators on March 31, 2018

Financial Service | If You're Still Not Ready for Economic Crisis It's Very Hard to Survive Bill Holter on March 31,2018.

The White House | Weekly adress from President Donald Trump on March 31,2018.

CNN | Trump slams Amazon, says giant hurts economy postal Service on March 31, 2018.

The Guardian | US news Fight for gu control heads to town halls after March for OUR Lives.on March 31, 2018.

theguardian.com

Fight for gun control heads to town halls after March for Our Lives | US news

Adam Gabbatt

The Resistance Now is a weekly update on the people, action and ideas driving the protest movement in the US. If you’re not already receiving it by email, subscribe.

After March for Our Lives, Town Halls for Our Lives

After the success of the March for Our Lives, the fight for gun control is continuing at a pace, with activists pushing for every member of Congress to attend a Town Hall for Our Lives next week – even as Republicans continue to avoid meeting with their constituents.
The events are being organized by March for Our Lives in conjunction with the Town Hall Project, which works to pressure members of Congress to hold regular town halls in their districts.
The Town Halls for Our Lives, being held on 7 April, will focus on gun control and gun violence. The events are being organized by activists, who book venues themselves before pressuring their elected representatives to attend.
Nathan Williams, from the Town Hall Project, said so far people were working to schedule town halls in about 150 congressional districts. So far the US representatives Ted Deutch and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz have said they will attend Town Halls for Our Lives in Florida, while Nydia Velázquez and Carolyn Maloney plan to attend events in New York. Ruben Gallego, who represents Arizona’s seventh district, has also said he will be at a Town Hall for Our Lives. All five are Democrats.
Members of the House and the Senate are on recess for the next week. Recess is traditionally an opportunity for elected officials to meet with constituents in their home districts, holding town halls or other in-person events.
Over the past year, however, the majority of Republicans have refused to hold in-person events. During this recess only 14 Republican representatives or senators are holding events, from a total of 289 GOP lawmakers. More than 40 Democrats are scheduled to hold town halls.
Many Republicans shied away from holding in-person events through 2017 as debate raged over GOP attempts to reform the Affordable Care Act. Those who did attend town halls faced angry questioning from constituents, with thousands of activists attending events across the country to rail against healthcare reform.
Williams said he was seeing a similar energy at the moment, but with a focus on gun control. The Republican senator Joni Ernst, who is opposed to banning semiautomatic rifles, faced angry questions at a town hall she held in Iowa from people demanding gun reform.
“In the same I would guess that the energy of last spring was rocket-fueled by the Women’s March, I think this march last Saturday has had the same effect,” he said.
“And what’s exciting for us is that it’s not necessarily all the same people – it’s a lot of young people who weren’t reaching out to us last year, and probably weren’t going to town halls last year, that are newly very active and becoming very savvy.
“People don’t just want to march and go home. They want to know what’s next. And right now what’s next is organizing these town halls and holding their members of congress accountable.”

What we’re reading

Thomas Piketty, the French economist whose work focuses on income inequality, believes Bernie Sanders’ election strategy is “the way to beat back the right”, according to Slate’s Keith Spencer. Spencer has been reading a new paper from Piketty – Brahmin Left vs Merchant Right: Rising Inequality & the Changing Structure of Political Conflict – and says that “at a time when the Democratic party seems to be locked in a battle for its own soul”, it could learn a lot from the Frenchman.

RT UK I Muslims are victims of Islam on March 31, 2018.

Independed | Donald Trump stops funds for recovery efforts in Syria as he mulls withdrawal of US troops on March 31, 2018.

independent.co.uk

Donald Trump stops funds for recovery efforts in Syria as he mulls withdrawal of US troops

Eric Schmitt, Helene Cooper, Alissa J Rubin

President Donald Trump, having this week signalled a possible withdrawal of American troops from Syria, has ordered the state department to suspend more than $200m (£140m) in funds for recovery efforts there while the administration reassesses its role in the conflict, administration officials said on Friday.
The freeze on stabilisation and humanitarian aid came as two members of the US-led coalition fighting in Syria were killed – one US soldier and one British – and five others were wounded by a bomb in a late night attack, the military said on Friday.
The attack took place near Manbij in northern Syria and is believed to have been carried out by remnants of Isis, a senior US military official said.
A statement posted by the US Central Command, which directs US forces in the region, said “an improvised explosive device” detonated about 11pm local time on Thursday.
The statement did not reveal the identities of the service members involved, how seriously the survivors were hurt or where in Syria the attack occurred. The US-led coalition includes about 30 countries, but only a few have forces on the ground.
A statement released Friday by the Ministry of Defence in London confirmed that the second soldier killed in the blast was British and that the mission was to counter fighters with Isis.
Coalition forces have been deployed to Syria to fight, alongside Kurdish militia allies, against Isis. But with that group largely routed, the seven-year-old civil war in Syria has entered a dangerous new phase.
Two US allies, Turkey and the Kurds, who control parts of northern Syria, are fighting each other. And the Kurds and coalition forces are engaged in a tense standoff with the Syrian government, along with its allies – Russia, Iran and Iranian-backed militias.
On Thursday, Mr Trump suggested the US could pull its approximately 2,000 troops out of Syria “very soon”. The comments surprised defence department officials who have maintained that some kind of US presence in parts of Syria may be necessary to avoid recreating the conditions that led to the rise of Isis – and also to avoid ceding influence in the country to Russia.

CNBC | Seeking downside protection, investors check actively managed ETFs

cnbc.com

Seeking downside protection, investors check actively managed ETFs

Andrew Osterland

One of the strongest trends of this 10-year bull market has been the shift to passive investing. Trillions in assets have flowed out of actively managed mutual funds and into passively managed exchange traded funds and indexed mutual funds.
Last year was no exception, with just under $7 billion flowing out of actively managed funds, and $692 billion flowing into passively managed funds, according to year-end figures from research firm Morningstar. Only the popularity of actively managed bond funds, with $179 billion in inflows, saved active management from a third straight abysmal year.
ETFs are traded on exchanges, so they can be bought and sold like stocks through a brokerage. Tetra Images | Getty Images
ETFs are traded on exchanges, so they can be bought and sold like stocks through a brokerage.
With interest rates rising and volatility up in the markets, however, investors may be shifting away from pure indexing toward more active management of investment risk.
"It's about downside protection," said Ryan Sullivan, a vice president of global ETF services at Brown Brothers Harriman. Sullivan helps fund companies to design and administer their products.
"There seems to be a growing interest in actively managed equity products in an ETF wrapper," he said.
Actively managed ETFs, where portfolio managers pick and choose investments like active mutual fund managers instead of simply tracking an index of assets, have been growing rapidly, albeit from a very small base. The lion's share of assets in the space is in fixed-income funds employing total return or low duration strategies.
"It's taken time for active management [in ETFs] to gain traction in the market," said Sullivan. "The segment has continued to set records in terms of growth, but it still represents only 1 percent of the broader market."
More from Advisor Insight:
Why investors can't gauge their own risk tolerance
Crazy tax moves clients wanted advisors to try for 2018
Don't put all your financial eggs in one investment basket
That may change this year, judging by the results of a recent survey of financial advisors and institutional investors by BBH. The survey found a big increase in interest in the products, particularly in the area of international equity and emerging markets, which attracted $239 billion in fund flows last year, per Morningstar.
To that point, 54 percent of survey respondents said they would use actively managed ETFs in emerging markets, and 45 percent said they would do so in international developed markets.
"I think we may see a spike in demand for actively managed ETFs this year," Sullivan said.
The explosive growth in so-called smart beta funds also suggests investors are not as comfortable buying the market or segments of it through simple indexing. Assets in smart beta funds surpassed $1 trillion in December and now comprise about one quarter of the entire ETF market.
The funds still passively track an index, but they use a rules-based methodology to screen a universe of securities for desirable factors, such as profitability, high dividends, low volatility or value for equities. In the fixed-income market, popular factors to emphasize include credit quality, yield and duration.
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Some product manufacturers are taking things a step further and creating their own indexes for funds to track. Last summer BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, launched some fixed-income ETFs — specifically, the iShares Edge Investment Grade Enhanced Bond ETF (IGEB) and iShares Edge High Yield Defensive Bond ETF (HYDB) — that track a proprietary index rather than a popular benchmark such as the Barclays Capital US Aggregate Bond Index.
In November the financial giant announced plans to launch seven actively managed equity sector ETFs to be called iShares Evolved. Instead of tracking industry indexes created by financial companies and joint ventures like MSCI, S&P Dow Jones Indices and others, the funds will use indexes created by robots employing machine learning to classify potential components. The company did not comment further on its plans.
"Companies are trying to move the needle in terms of index creation," said Sullivan. "With self-indexing, a team creates a methodology to produce an index and then launches an ETF to track it."
Wisdom Tree Investments, one of the pioneers of smart beta investing strategies, is putting an active twist on passive investing in emerging markets. The company's WisdomTree China ex-State-Owned Enterprises Fund (CXSE) tracks a proprietary index of the broad market that excludes companies with more than a 20 percent state-ownership interest
"There seems to be a growing interest in actively managed equity products in an ETF wrapper."
"We focus the fund on companies that are freer to compete in the global market," said Luciano Siracusano, chief investment strategist for WisdomTree. "We're giving investors the option to control for the risk of state ownership." Last year the CXSE had a return of 80 percent — more than double the return on the iShares China Large Cap fund, which includes the state-owned enterprises in the index. WisdomTree has launched a similar fund, with ticker symbol XSOE, for the broader Asian market.
Last June the company also launched its first multifactor U.S. equity fund (USMF). It screens for 200 stocks with the highest combined score on four factors: value, fundamental quality, momentum and low volatility. "Factors behave differently in different markets," said Siracusano. "The goal is to get most of the upside [of the S&P 500] and protect against the downside."
In a suddenly volatile market, more investors may be looking for that kind of protection.
— By Andrew Osterland, special to CNBC.com
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The Guardian | Today U.S. on March 31, 2018.

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